Author Interview #35, with teenage author of horror stories (and other random murderous pieces), John Hansen!
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Hey John! Please describe yourself in 5 words:
Creative. Passionate. Clever. Slightly insane.
Ah, a fellow insane person ;) Share a short excerpt and blurb of your work (10-100 words):
Here’s an excerpt from a work in progress — but it gives you a good taste of my writing style:
“And for a moment — one terrible moment — Kyle’s cold, rigid expression softened. The ferocity that had burned within his eyes melted away into something that Hannah had not seen in Kyle in the longest time — regret. And in that one terrible instant, Hannah almost felt sympathetic for her suffering husband as she saw into that struggling soul of his, which had become trapped beneath his hard, unflappable exterior as it desperately sought out a way to reveal itself. Hannah wanted to reach out to him, to touch his hand, to fall sobbing into his outstretched arms and to have him tell her it would all be okay, to let her take him back no matter his past mistakes. But she knew better than that. Hannah could never again trust that cruel, sadistic man; much less take him back. The kids didn’t deserve him, she didn’t deserve him…no one did. No one deserved a man like Kyle. No one deserved a murderer.”
Gripping! Share an excerpt of your favorite author’s work (10-100 words):
My favorite author is Rick Riordan. My favorite book by him is Mission Road. It’s illegal to reproduce an excerpt (according to Random House’s policy), so, keeping that in mind, I don’t think I’ll break the law today. An excerpt can be found online, though, if you’re interested.
Comment on the writing versus publication process, in your experience:
In my opinion, writing is spontaneous, compulsive. I can sit down and write a book and I’d love it. It’s a hobby of mine and something I’d like to eventually do professionally. Writing comes naturally to me and many others but it is not the easy to do, even if you have a writing gift. Writing is not easy but it is many author’s calling. Anyone can write a book. I mean anyone. It could be awful or it could be amazing but just the writing aspect is nothing more than a compulsion.
Publishing is different. Publishing is difficult to do and should not discourage any of you authors, but publishing is really what takes your writing — your hobby and compulsion — to the test. As I said, anyone can write a novel and many people do because of this calling they get, but few books written are actually worthy of publishing. Lack of commercial (please don’t call it traditional because that doesn’t mean what you intend it to; it includes vanity presses like Publishing America in the ‘traditional publishing’ spectrum) publication does not wholly reflect the quality of your work, but no matter what many indies say, if you don’t succeed at all (I mean complete rejections) it should set off some alarms.
If you don’t get any requests for partials or fulls from agents, it means that there is something wrong with your writing or book. Just as simple as that. Don’t let this discourage you; it happened to me. I went back, read through my manuscript and realized that my characters were boring. The publishing industry — without doing anything more than rejecting my manuscript — changed me as an author. I took my passion to the test, and I failed. It was a slow recovery but in the recent months I’ve completely revamped my writing style and since then I’ve gotten a bunch of short story/poetry publications. I’ve been told that what I have written so far of my second novel is excellent, perfect.
To me, writing is a calling but there is a fine line between writing and publishing. Anyone can write. Only skilled writers can publish. If you fail in the publishing industry, go back to your work. Read through it again. Find what is wrong. Try again. It will work for you.
Yes, failure is part of the journey to success (whether commercially or independently published). What is your definition of “good writing”?
“Good writing” is as broad as any prose that evokes emotion from the reader. Every good book evokes emotion because that’s what makes books so enjoyable; if a book doesn’t, it is, frankly, bad. Who would want to read a book that gives you no emotion? Reading passively, as if you are at a distance from a book because no emotion escapes you, is probably the least enjoyable thing one can do. But if a book evokes emotion in the reader, the reader will feel a kinship to the author and characters and it will make the reading experience so much more enjoyable. It doesn’t matter how it is portrayed; any author’s goal is to captivate their readers. Good writing does this. Whether it is rich, beautiful prose for a love story or fast, flowing writing for a thriller, it doesn’t matter. Good writing evokes emotion within the reader, compels them to read on and ultimately enjoy the book.
Please share your #1 tip for writers:
I hate to sound so stupidly redundant and repeat what I’m sure every guest here says as that is against my personality, but this is an exception. Heed my words, don’t grumble to yourselves about how annoying I am (well, you can do that too). As you all have heard, the #1 tip for writers is to never give up. Never. DO NOT let rejections from agents and publishers discourage you at all. It’s a tough industry and rejections don’t reflect the quality of your work.
If you have a book out somewhere, don’t think twice about 1-star reviews, no matter how harsh they are. Why? Because guess who else gets 1-star reviews? Hmm, let me think: Stephen King, John Grisham, Christopher Paolini, Suzanne Collins, James Patterson and I could go on (so, essentially, you’re in good company).
Guys, it takes years to publish. Decades. A fellow crime writer who is now commercially published went through two literary agents who could not sell her book. She did countless rewrites, submitted everywhere and for a period of twelve years, she could not get her book published. But did she give up? No. She dumped the agents, kept submitting and twelve years after the books’ completion, she got a publishing acceptance. Her book now sits on the shelves at your local bookstore. Never give up. Never get discouraged. All of you have a gift, have a unique way to tell a story; show it. Write, submit, and write some more. Let my author friend be your guide. It takes forever to publish but if you work at it as much as she did, you get great rewards.
Please let us know your websites/blogs/etc:
Please visit my book blog where I read and review books, host commercially published authors, agents, publishers and publicists for interviews (I have an interview with literary agent and published author, Mandy Hubbard coming up!), and give my tips on writing as well as your occasional insane and random post. It is appropriately titled “The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer” (http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com).
I’m also on:
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Much thanks to John for stopping by — be sure to check out his vibrant blog/website to learn more about his writing, reviews, and guest interviews!